North Pocono grads make their presence felt at all-star game
The 2018 high school football season officially kicked-off on a steamy summer evening at Valley View.
More than 7,500 fans gathered at John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium Wednesday night in Blakely to witness the 84th Annual Dream Game.
The event is organized and run each year by the Scranton Lions Club, giving recently graduated gridiron stars one last chance to showcase their skills.
“It's an amazing night,” said Dr. Mark Watson, who coached the City squad in its yearly battle with the County. “It's a wonderful experience for the players and the coaches.”
This marked the second time Dr. Watson and his Wallenpaupack Area staff have been tapped to mentor the City squad. The first time was back in 2008 and both ended in victories.
On this particular night, the City scored in every quarter en route to a wild 49-20 triumph.
With the win, the City extended its edge in the all-time series to 42-38. There have been four ties in what is now the longest-running high school football all-star game in the country.
North Pocono was well-represented this year. Joe Ianni, Jeremiah Acker, Mike Kowalski and Brett Butler each made key contributions for the City.
“They're great kids,” Dr. Watson said. “I can definitely see each one of them doing great things at the next level.”
The County actually struck first in Wednesday night's contest.
Old Forge running back Brendan Mozeleski broke the scoring ice with an 11-yard touchdown run less than four minutes in.
The City retaliated just moments later when Dr. Watson unleashed his secret weapon for the first time.
Scranton quarterback Robbie McAndrew faded back to pass and spotted Holbert running free in the County secondary. The cannon-armed signal caller fired a strike to his receiver, who did the rest.
Forty-nine yards later, Ty was celebrating in the County endzone. It was the first of two scintillating scores Holbert would notch in the night.
“Ty isn't the biggest kid in the world, but he's fast and very athletic,” said Dr. Watson. “Ty played baseball and football in high school. He's worked very hard to get where he is right now and I'm definitely proud of him.”
Holbert is headed to Moravian College where he will continue his academic and athletic careers.
Meanwhile, two other Paupack players turned in memorable efforts at this year's Dream Game.
Zach Maldacker handled the majority of the kicking duties for the City and was nothing short of stellar. Maldacker knocked through all seven of his placement attempts and also killed a punt inside the County's five yardline.
Aidan Maldacker also earned high marks from his mentor for big blocks at the fullback position.
“Aidan played his usual hard-nosed game,” said Dr. Watson. “He did a great job for us out there.”
By the Numbers
The score was tied 14-14 after one, but then the City began slowly pulling away.
Dr. Watson's squad took a 28-20 lead at intermission and pitched a 21-0 shutout after the break.
“I think we just wore them down in the second half,” he said. “We were a little bit more physical and made a few more big plays than they did. That was the ultimate difference.”
McAndrew was the breakout star of the night, accounting for five of his team's touchdowns.
The Scranton gunslinger threw for just under 200 yards and three scores. Two of those went to Holbert (49 and 36 yards) while Matt Gilmartin of Scranton Prep (four yards).
McAndrew also rushed for a pair of scores, one from a yard out and one from five yards away.
Andre Chollette of West Scranton paced the City's ground game with 48 yards and two TDs on 11 carries.
North Pocono players each contributed something to the cause this year.
Ianni, Acker, Kowalski and Butler each turned heads for the victorious City squad.
“I am very pleased with how well our kids did,” said Coach Dolhon. “I'm proud of them. They represented our school and community really well.”
This quartet of Trojans was especially effective defensively.
Kowalski played corner and surrendered just one reception all game. He also made a key play of special teams.
Ianni was formidable at the line of scrimmage, making numerous big hits from his linebacker position. Butler showed off his speed and athleticism by running down plays sideline to sideline.
Acker wreaked havoc in the backfield all night, putting constant pressure on the County quarterbacks.
“It's very satisfying to see your kids out there with some of the best players in the area and more than holding their own,” Coach Dolhon said. “It's also neat to see them in uniform at this level one last time.”
Two other North Pocono players, JC Gaughan and Matt Caputo, would have been on the field, but were held out due to injuries.